[News] Venezuela - The New Society Will Emerge in the Commune
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 27 13:11:51 EST 2020
The New Society Will Emerge in the Commune: A Conversation with Angel
Prado | Orinoco Tribune
January 27, 2020
*A grassroots leader talks about the commune as a means to transform the
society and the economy from the ground up.*
El Maizal is a flagship rural commune between the centrally-located
Venezuelan states of Lara and Portuguesa, which produces livestock,
corn, and other foodstuffs. Communal production in El Maizal is based on
socialized control of the means of production. The democratic processes
at the core of its initiatives include collective decision-making in the
working process and in the distribution of the surplus, which is often
destined towards addressing medical and housing problems in the
community, supporting other communes, and fostering educational initiatives.
In this exclusive interview with Angel Prado, El Maizal’s key
spokesperson, we talk about the role of the commune in the transition to
socialism, the communards’ critical support of the government and their
plans for an ambitious education and training initiative. Prado also
reflects on the tenth-anniversary landmark of the commune and future
Since Venezuela is under siege by imperialism, there should be a unified
front in the struggle for sovereignty. However, El Maizal Commune, like
most grassroots Chavista organizations, has a critical attitude toward
some governmental policies and positions. What is your view of the
dialectic between support and criticism?
When El Maizal began occupying idle land and making it collective, that
was when Comandante Chavez was carrying out a relentless war against the
creole oligarchy’s large estates… so El Maizal was born in the midst of
an economic and political struggle. In that context, we necessarily
entered into contradiction with the existing order of things: the logic
that prevails in our society. Thus, our very history has made us into a
critical organization, fighting against the “anti-values” of capitalist
society that need to be destroyed. That is why we cannot turn a blind
eye to the way that a non-Chavista logic is entering into certain
Since Chavez’s death, which made us especially vulnerable in the face of
US imperialism, the government’s main focus has been to try to establish
tactical alliances with many sectors, sometimes even privileging private
capital. They did this in an attempt to avoid, first, a civil war or a
military intervention and, second, to avoid the fall of the government.
Our principles, our objectives, and our commitment to Chavez mean that
we cannot agree with some of the government’s policies. Many of the
pacts privileging the private sector have sidelined the potential of the
commune – hence we don’t support the government when it comes to these
policies. However, as long as the government remains firm against
imperialism (as it does), we will remain firm in a unified front with it.
We will continue to constructively criticize [the government], but no
matter what, we will never contribute to creating conditions for a
As you know, we cannot rule out a direct intervention, and we have
already witnessed indirect US action in Venezuela. Moreover, it wouldn’t
be the first time that the United States has intervened in Venezuela
[eg. the 1902-1903 naval blockade], and the continent has a long history
of interventions, the most recent being the invasion of Panama .
Also, it’s not for nothing that the US has military bases in Colombia
Latin America has undergone a long history of US interventions, toppled
governments, and massacred populations. However, Venezuela, now in the
sights of US imperialism, has been able to stand on its feet. That is in
part due to the international solidarity developed over time, Chavez’s
process of continental integration (following Bolivar’s footsteps), and
the internal working-class organization.
For those of us in the popular movement – with our degree of autonomy
and our disposition to say what must be said – we are among those who
have created conditions to impede US intervention, which would be
catastrophic not only for the people of Venezuela but for the continent
as a whole.
Backing up a bit: there are plenty of policies underway that we don’t
agree with. In the face of those policies, we will be critical, not
submissive. However, we understand our unwavering commitment to the
defense of the Patria to be one of the keys in keeping the US from
bombing and massacring us. Actually, as opposed to the governments of
other oil-producing countries which were also in the sight of US
imperialism, the Venezuelan popular movement’s closing of ranks with the
government when it comes to issues of sovereignty, is one of the reasons
why Maduro is still standing today.
As surprising as it may seem, I think we can say that the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela has so far defeated the imperialist project in our
country. That example continues to inspire the peoples of Latin America,
who are now rising up against the neoliberal system to which they have
been submitted for so many years.
tierra_y_hombres_libres_1_0In El Maizal Commune, under an enormous saman
tree, visitors will find a sculpture of Hugo Chavez. Behind it, the
Venezuelan flag and the Zamora flag, which reads “Free land and free
men.” (Cira Pascual Marquina/Venezuelanalysis)
*When you close ranks with the government to defend Venezuela, are you
just defending sovereignty or are you also defending the revolution?*
I would say that we are doing both. There is a revolutionary process
underway in Venezuela, but there is also a reformist sector that has
been in conflict with us. The latter are getting rich from the
opportunities that emerge with the crisis. However, the pueblo is aware
of this problem, and the popular movement is working hard to keep the
revolutionary process afloat.
I am sure that someday we will be strong enough not only to combat US
imperialism but also the sectors that have been hurting the
revolutionary project from within – those that are personally benefiting
in the context of the crisis and the economic war.
The defense of the revolution happens in the day-to-day. Defending the
revolution takes place in the daily building of the commune. It happens
when a campesino produces to satisfy his family’s needs, but also when
the campesino is committed to the society as a whole.
It is a victory for the Venezuelan people that we are still a sovereign
nation, which is not a small thing. The Venezuelan people also defend
the revolution in the day-to-day. This is a very important victory as
well, and it should be known to the world! Some of the international
left may not understand this. To them we echo Chavez in saying, “There
are people that have spent their whole life pursuing a dream, but in
practice, they never built anything.” We have our method, our work, and
our project. We will defend our project, and our final victory will be
on the day that the “pueblo takes the power in its hands.”
*From El Maizal, how do you understand Chavez’s proposal of the commune?
Is it about local self-government or does it go beyond?*
The commune is Comandante Chavez’s political wager. He positioned it
centerstage… His slogan “Commune or nothing!” [“Comuna o nada!”] drives
the concept home.
The commune is the political system that Chavez planted, pruned, and
fertilized. He did this so that a new society would bloom. The commune
is the reorganization of society as a whole, from the small to the
large, so that the people will be able to assume power.
In Chavez’s way of thinking, the commune is destined to end with the
power that for so many years concentrated around the bourgeoisie, the
dominating classes, and their obsolete state – a state that kept humble
people away from participation not only in the political sphere but in
all other spheres of life as well.
The commune is an interesting proposal: it offers a form of popular
self-government, it empowers us to define our own destiny, to decide
over our own resources, to define our production model, and to imagine
our model of life. I think the commune is the most viable way of
overcoming the model imposed by capitalism, which built a state machine
to maintain control over our resources while controlling the people with
certain forms of cultural, ideological, and religious domination.
I would dare to say that the commune is not a proposal just for the
Venezuelan people. It’s a proposal for emancipation for the peoples of
the world. The popular classes, the dispossessed, the majority – all of
us have to organize from the local level, building socialist communes.
From there [the pueblo organized in communes] have to become the
government of the people with real control over our natural resources
and over our economic resources in general.
This is a popular project to change the political and economic model
from the ground up. From there, the people have to become part of the
project, assume it as their own, and begin to govern first at a local
level. Also, to the degree that we, the pueblo, organize ourselves, we
will be able to defend our countries, and even define the future of each
country. At the end of the day, that is the only way to cast off the
yoke of imperialism, which dominates and takes our resources, even if it
is the local bourgeoisies who govern us.
The commune is a broad-ranging project. It is a project that integrates
territories within a country, with the pueblo as the cornerstone. I
think the communes could be the base from which to construct a true
continental integration. As Chavez would say, the commune is the new
Patria. It is the only political alternative when facing capitalism.
*In the past few months, El Maizal has kicked off an important
educational initiative. In any self-governed project, political
education should be one of the mainstays. Can you tell us more about the
For our second decade at El Maizal Commune, we have laid out several
strategic objectives. One of them is to build a popular education system
that will educate us politically, prepare us technically, and give us
tools for working toward collective transformation. We have built a
commune and that is no small thing, but now is the time to work toward a
profound cultural transformation. We need to create a new consciousness.
We need our pueblo to see things with its own criteria and define its
future through conscious processes of debate and reflection, as well as
acquiring mechanisms for collective construction. To do so, we are
developing our own educational system.
We don’t want a pueblo that just repeats slogans, who blindly follow
some acronym or flag. This year we want to make political education and
technical training a transversal objective. This objective shouldn’t be
narrow. We are thinking about a system that begins with our youngest
children who will be studying here in the commune, and we hope to build
our own school curriculum for them. Adolescents, university students,
workers – all must be incorporated into a system which has critical
political formation at its center.
We need to cultivate patriotic consciousness and build political
consciousness. We also need to create communal consciousness, and that
happens by way of the example – through real work in the territory, but
also through education and training.
We are doing this with the goal of culturally transforming our society,
which comes replete with vices. It shapes us as submissive beings
adapted to a system of domination designed by capitalism and imposed
The preparation of militant cadres is key for our commune, but technical
training is very important too for all of our production processes. We
aim for our educational system to be holistic.
We work towards the organization of a new society, and that requires a
huge cultural transformation.
*The year 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of El Maizal Commune. Can you
give us a brief look at what has been achieved so far?*
In ten years of communal construction here at El Maizal Commune, we have
accumulated experiences and had battles on economic, political,
ideological, electoral, and organizational fronts. Over the years, we
have had the opportunity to form relationships with many people inside
and outside of the commune who have contributed to the project. In other
words, the commune is a collective construction for collective emancipation.
On the productive front, we have been able to design an economic system
through which we finance diverse projects and initiatives within our
organization and our community. We have been able to confront the
difficult economic situation by producing, and we have broadened our
distribution of food products and the redistribution of surpluses. We
have also been able to connect small and midsize producers – both
individual and collective ones – to El Maizal’s productive system. That
has strengthened the commune as a whole.
Economic success is the key to political success. We have worked toward
sovereignty and autonomy, consolidating projects that were initially
precarious. We have done so with the help and orientation of many. Now
we feel that we can initiate new projects in the areas of education and
In the electoral sphere we’ve had some victories in tough battles
against the political right, but also against our own government and our
own political and electoral system. Now we have representation in the
National Constitutive Assembly, in the state parliament, and in the
townships in our territory. Those battles and those spaces of
representation are symbolically important. That includes the
representative posts that were taken out from under our feet in the
dispute between the state, the party and the government, on the one
hand, and the people and the popular movement, on the other.
Fortunately, in the electoral sphere, we were able to overcome a problem
common among politicians of all types who often separate themselves from
the people. That is to say, we continue to be humble people, some of us
with responsibilities as elected representatives of the people… but
above all, we are communards.
On the ethical front, I think we have advanced a lot. Today El Maizal
has a wide network of young people incorporated into productive,
political, administrative, and economic processes, and we are all in a
permanent debate, questioning our values and focusing on our collective
principles. Today El Maizal stands out not only for its productive
capacity but also because it is an ethical example. Honesty and
working-class solidarity at the service of the organization and on the
path towards the construction of socialism – that is what we are about.
Many popular organizations around the country and the world value this,
and they recognize El Maizal as a small experience that is interesting
and worth learning from. We have to live up to that!
I think that in our ten years on the communal path, we have advanced
quite a bit. El Maizal Commune is made up of more than 22 communal
councils. Our work reaches beyond our territory, and we have begun a
process of connecting with other communities, with other organizational
projects. In fact, among our historical objectives, the expansion of the
communal project is considered strategic. So far, we have expressed our
disposition to unite, and we have taken the first steps towards the
construction of a communal society.
*What are the main challenges you are facing for the future?*
In the next ten years, we will work very hard to consolidate a new
productive system, organizing our work democratically, moving toward
industrialization, and eliminating intermediaries, with the objective of
displacing the logic of capital and its monopolies, which aims to
control the basic needs of our population while ransacking the humblest
To overcome the logic of capital, the only option is to strongly unify
the many popular and communal organizations around the country (and the
world). From the ranks of true Chavismo we are called to give solutions
to the basic needs of our society. This will have to happen hand in hand
with the construction of new mass organizations, with a political
militancy that will have to be up to the challenges we are facing. This
is not only about the political and economic sphere. We are obliged to
build a large organization to make it understood that there is an
alternative. It is also an ideological battle.
El Maizal has large challenges. As we face them we will grow. The
process of building the communes is a learning and teaching process too,
and we know that folks from around the world will continue to visit us
and give us guidance, just as we hope to visit other projects and learn
from them. Wherever life may take us, we will aim to strengthen communal
and collective popular projects.
asamblea_el_maizalAn assembly in El Maizal Commune, in March 2019. (Cira
/Featured image: Angel Prado is the main spokesperson for El Maizal
Commune. (Marcelo Volpe)/
Source URL: Venezuelanalysis.com
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News